By Andrew Hough, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 06 Oct 2010.
Believing in God can help people live longer, a study has suggested.
Research into liver transplant patients found those who were actively “seeking God” had a better survival rate than those who did not hold religious beliefs, regardless of which faith they held.
They found some patients were up to three times more likely to survive by having a “strong religious connection”, even if they didn’t attend church.
The study, published in the journal Liver Transplantation, adds weight to previous studies that showed how religion and faith can “influence disease progression”.
Dr Franco Bonaguidi, who led the study, said the study found patients with “high religious coping” who actively sought “God’s help” and trusted their beliefs had a “more prolonged post-transplant survival than patients with low religiosity”.
“We found that an active search for God, (where) the patient’s faith in a higher power rather than a generic destiny, had a positive impact on patient survival,” he said.
He added it was the “personal relationship between the patient and God, regardless of religious creed rather than formal church attendance that positively affected survival”.
It did not matter what relgion a person believed in.
In their study, researchers selected 179 patients who had received a liver transplant between January 2004 and December 2007.
The group, the majority whom were male and middle aged, also completed a “religiosity” questionnaire before being monitored for the next four years after their transplant.
Almost two years later, religious patients were three times as likely to survive as those who did not hold such faith.
After three years, almost seven per cent of the actively “seeking-God” patients had died compared to more than a fifth of non religious believers.
The researchers concluded that the “search for God factor” coupled with a patient’s length of stay in an intensive care unit were “independently associated with survival”.
One participant, who was not identified, told the researchers that they “recovered” their life through the will of God, which made them “feel strong and calm”.
The study pointed to previous research, which it said showed people with HIV as well as heart patients, kidney dialysis patients had better survival chance if they were religious.
Last month researchers from Penn State university found that losing faith was bad for a person’s health as leaving a strict religion made people more likely to increase their drinking and smoking and were more susceptible to negativity and stress.